Sheriff's peers pay him a high honor indeed

POLK COUNTY - Bob Wolfe was sitting among his peers during the Oregon State Sheriff's Association (OSSA) annual conference in Lincoln City two weeks ago.

Half of his attention was directed toward the stage, where Sheriff of the Year honors were being announced. Wolfe, OSSA president. was at the same time trying to prepare a list for his own presentation.

"I was listening with one ear when I noticed a lot of the things that were being said on stage sounded like stuff I had done," he said. "Then they called out my name."

Wolfe's honor comes at a time when he is officially wrapping up his year-long term as OSSA president.

"I was honored by the award," Wolfe said. "To have the other sheriffs in the state think I did a good enough job to deserve it is very humbling."

Andrew Bentz, Malheur County Sheriff and one of those who nominated Wolfe, said the award was the perfect end to Wolfe's presidency.

"He had an extraordinarily challenging year," Bentz said, noting that Wolfe served while the organization was undergoing personnel changes and was fully embroiled in the Legislative session.

"He represented all of us graciously as president, and did so while looking out for the well-being of citizens in the state."

Raised in a military family, Wolfe moved across the country several times until ending up Keizer during the mid-1960s.

He said it was a ride-along with a Marion County Sheriff's Deputy while he was in high school that convinced him to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Wolfe became an officer with the Independence Police Department in 1974. Three years later, he was hired as a Polk County deputy.

Wolfe was elected sheriff in 1998. He joined the OSSA -- a nonprofit organization that represents sheriff's offices in every Oregon county -- and held several leadership positions before being elected president.

The OSSA underwent several internal changes this past year, such as moving into a new headquarters in Salem and retirements by personnel in charge of its management, Bentz said.

Bentz said Wolfe seemlessly oversaw those events -- all the while taking care of his responsibilities to citizens in Polk County.

As part of the association's legislative committee, Wolfe spent much time poring over bills and testifying at the capital about budget cuts to community corrections programs and other hot-button issues during the 2005 Legislature.

"People in Polk didn't suffer because he was president," said Dave Burright, retired Linn County Sheriff and the OSSA executive director.

Wolfe was also honored at the OSSA conference by the Oregon chapter of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a child advocate group, for his newspaper editorials and testimony to concerning adequate foster care for young victims of violence.


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